Hormonal regulation of the annual pelage color cycle in the Djungarian hamster, Phodopus sungorus. I. Role of the gonads and the pituitary

Marilyn J. Duncan, Bruce D. Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Djungarian hamster exhibits an agouti pelage in the summer and a predominantly white pelage in the winter. This pelage color cycle is known to be regulated by the length of the daily photoperiod probably acting through the pineal gland, as is the seasonal cycle of reproductive function with which it is closely correlated (Figala et al., '73; Hoffmann, '78b). The possibility of a causal relationship between the decline in gonadal hormone secretion and the coat color change occurring in short photoperiod was examined. Gonadectomized and intact male and female hamsters were exposed to either long (16L:8D) or short (10L:14D) photoperiod for several months. Gonadectomy neither induced the change to the winter pelage color in long photoperiod‐housed animals, nor prevented either the change to the winter pelage or the spontaneous return to summer pelage color in short photoperiod‐housed animals. Chronic implants of testosterone in castrated males delayed and attenuated the short photoperiod‐induced coat color change. Administration of ovine prolactin (100 μg/day) stimulated pigmentation in hamsters with the winter pelage, whereas administration of a αMSH (30 μg/ day) was without effect. These results suggest that changes in pelage color may be regulated largely by changes in pituitary prolactin secretion and modified to some extent by changes in gonadal steroid hormone secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology
Volume230
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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